The heavily forested, 3,687-acre park lies on the southern shore of TVA's Norris Reservoir approximately 25 miles north of Knoxville. Visitors to the park will find a wealth of activities to meet any interest from guided nature tours to backcountry camping.
Special Campground Message
Big Ridge State Park campground is closed until further notice due to construction. The results of the campground construction project will include: a new bathhouse facility that will be open year-round, campsites that are accessible to people with disabilities, and an upgrade to 50 amp electrical service on most sites. Please bear with us, the finished work will make our campground an even better place to visit in the future.
Big Ridge State Park was one of five demonstration parks developed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as an example of public recreation development along TVA lakeshores. The structures on the park reflect the craftsmanship and stonework of the CCC, and along the trails you may see remnants of the homes and farms that existed here prior to the birth of the TVA. Before the park was created, the area was heavily populated and used for agriculture.
Other notable features of the park include: the Norton Gristmill built in 1825, remnants of Sharp's Station Fort construction in the late 1700's, and Indian Rock where a plaque commemorates the death of Peter Graves, a settler of Sharp's Station who was attacked by Indians at this spot. Also, the park has several notable structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corp.
The park has 19 one-bedroom rustic cabins available from April 1 through October 31 capable of accommodating six persons. Bedrooms contain two double beds and a sofa sleeper in the living room. Cabins have hardwood floors and screened-in porches. There is no air-conditioning. Five cabins are located on the lakeside. Fourteen sit on the ridge. Cabins are fully equipped with linens stove, refrigerator kitchen hardware and grill. Fireplace is available and firewood is provided seasonally. There are no televisions or phones. Please call for our pet policy. Reservations may be made up to two years in advance and should be made through the park office.
Campground construction message
Big Ridge has 50 campsites on or near Norris Lake to accommodate RV's, trailers, and tent campers. RV campsites have a soft gravel pad will accommodate a unit up to 35 feet. Each site has water and 30-amp electrical hookups, picnic table and grill. A dumping station is provided, as well as two bathhouses with restrooms and hot shower facilities. Bathhouses are closed during the off season from November 1 to March 31.
Accommodating up to 120 people, the group camp has 18 screened-in bunkhouses, sleeping six to eight each. The group camp is open from April 1 through October 31 and reservations are required. The dining hall contains a commercial kitchen facility. The group camp includes two bathhouses with hot shower facilities. No linens are provided. No RVs or tents are allowed at the group camp.
Overnight backcountry camping is allowed at three designated campsites. Backcountry camping is free, but a permit is required. Pets on a leash are allowed. Pack animals are prohibited.
Our gift shop is located inside the park office/visitor's center, and is open during office hours.
A coin-operated laundry is open from April 1 to October 31.
Meeting Facilities/Recreation Hall
The 22-foot x 40-foot recreation hall can hold up to 70 people depending on seating arrangement. The hall has a small kitchen with a stove/oven and a refrigerator.
Big Ridge has three covered picnic shelters, each capable of accommodating 25 - 30 people. The shelters may be reserved for a fee. Please call the park office for reservations. If not rented, shelters may be used free of charge, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Each shelter is equipped with a grill and picnic tables. Waters spigots are located conveniently nearby. Open picnic areas with tables and grills are also available free to charge. The Recreation Hall also provides a picnic area and accommodates 70 people and is available to rent. Each shelter is equipped with a grill and picnic tables. Water spigots are located conveniently nearby.
Seasonal Interpretive Rangers provide free weekly activities for the entire family during the summer months including guided hikes, movies, campfires, arts and crafts, nature programs, and organized sports activities.
- Wildlife Presentation
- Salamander Hunt
- Creek Critters
- Backcountry Basics
- Owl Prowl
- Bat Watch
- Nature Crafts
- Nature Games
- Native Plants for landscaping
- Wildflower Walks
- Tracks and Signs
- Guided Hikes
Big Ridge State Park hosts three special events each year. On the day before Easter big Ridge hosts the annual Easter Egg Hunt. The event is free and many prizes are available for children 10 and under. On the third Friday in august the annual Bluegrass Music Festival is held from 7pm to midnight. Ten local bands play bluegrass, country and old-time country music. The event is free. On Friday and Saturday nights in October, Big Ridge park rangers conduct guided night hikes to tell ghost stories from the park's past. For more information on these events, call the park office.
Play Grounds and Playing Fields
The park offers sand volleyball, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, basketball court and softball field. A new wheelchair accessible playground is located next to the park office and offers play experiences for children of all ages and abilities. Big Ridge offers many activities including: badminton, basketball, horseshoes, playground, softball, tennis Courts (2 courts, no lights), volleyball (2 sand courts, one at the swimming beach) and board games. All equipment may be checked out at the park office/interpretive center at no charge.
Bicycles are welcome on the park's roads and parking areas, but not on the trails. Bicycle riders under 16 years of age must wear a helmet.
Over 15 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy to very rugged. Trails travel along dry ridges, lush hollows, old roadbeds, lakeshores, and beside cemeteries and remnants of early settlements. Hiking is the only activity allowed on trails and restricted to horses and bicycles. Trails are open year round and overnight camping is allowed on designated backcountry campsites by permit only.
Read descriptions of the various hiking trails at this park
Canoe, paddleboat, and rowboat rentals are available on 49-acre Big Ridge Lake. The boat dock is open seasonally from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Please call the park office for specific hours of operation. Visitors may use their own electric trolling motors on park rowboats. Privately owned boats, including canoes and kayaks, are not permitted on Big Ridge Lake. Fishing boats, ski boats, and wave runners can be launched at the boat ramp on Norris Lake. No access to boat ramp on Norris Lake during winter months.
Tennessee Boating Regulations
Enjoy lake fishing year round anywhere from the shore of Big Ridge Lake except the swimming beach. Expect to catch a variety of fish such as bluegill, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and crappie. The boat dock at Big Ridge park is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Canoe, paddleboat and rowboat rentals are available on the 49-acre Big Ridge Lake. Visitors may use their own electric trolling motors on park rowboats. Gasoline outboards are not allowed on Big Ridge Lake. Fishing boats, ski boats and wave runners can be launched at the boat ramp on Norris Lake. No access to boat ramp at Norris Lake during winter months.
State license required for individuals between 13 and 65 years of age.
Tennessee Fishing Regulations
A sandy beach next to Big Ridge Lake provides swimming enjoyment from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 8:00a.m. - 8:00 p.m. daily. An enclosed, concrete-bottomed area is provided for children. Swimming is free of charge. There is no lifeguard on duty, swimming is at your own risk.
Tour buses are welcome and most roads are accessible. Contact the park office for more information.